RoboCop Returns: Directed by provocateur Paul Verhoeven, “RoboCop” is a sci-fi classic — the perfect blend of over-the-top action and edgy satire. While Alex Murphy blasts bad guys to bits, the movie takes aim at everything from the media to corporate greed. It gave us an all-time bad guy with the unhinged Clarence Boddicker, one of the all-time kill scenes with ED-209 absolutely annihilating a terrified businessman, and some of the very best ’80s one-liners, like “your move, creep” and “dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”
Since that first film, “RoboCop” has inspired an entire franchise, but none of the follow-ups have really lived up to the original movie. However, Hollywood now has a chance to do the series justice. It looks like that trigger-happy police droid is coming back with “RoboCop Returns,” a movie that’s been in the works for quite a while. And if you’ve got questions about the new action flick, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. From who’s directing to when you might see Alex Murphy return in his chrome-plated glory, here’s what we know so far about “RoboCop Returns.”
When will RoboCop Returns be released?
“RoboCop Returns” has been in the pipeline for a long, long time. In fact, it was intended to be the immediate follow-up to Paul Verhoeven’s classic ’80s action flick, with the script penned by Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner — the scribes who wrote the first film. However, getting a movie made is an incredibly difficult process, and multiple issues eventually sank the project back in the day.
First, Paul Verhoeven didn’t want to direct a sequel. Second, Neumeier and Miner were also busy working on a screenplay for Oliver Stone, so they couldn’t solely focus on the “RoboCop” script. Thirdly, the two soon found themselves in a writer’s strike, and as a result, they were let go from the project. Eventually, comic book legend Frank Miller was brought in, and he wrote a new script for what would become the actual sequel, “RoboCop 2,” directed by Irvin Kershner.
However, Neumeier and Miner’s screenplay — originally titled “RoboCop: The Corporate Wars” — began picking up steam again around 2016. As Neumeier explained to Deadline, “Right when [Donald] Trump was about to be elected president [MGM president Jon Glickman] called me and said, ‘Did you actually predict in your sequel script that a reality star would run for president and win?’ We had.” This finally got the ball rolling, with both Neumeier and Miner coming aboard as producers, although we still aren’t sure when the film will actually start shooting.
As of August 2020, the film hadn’t been given the official go-ahead from MGM. When SyFy asked Neumeier if there was a formal greenlight, he responded, “No, we’re still trying to get a script right.” Since then, there haven’t been a ton of updates on “RoboCop Returns,” so we’re still waiting to see if and when it’ll actually hit the big screen.
What is the plot of RoboCop Returns?
At this point, we can only make educated guesses about what to expect with “RoboCop Returns.” However, the film will be based on a decades-old script by Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner. Even though it’s gone through multiple rewrites since then, we can assume the basic story structure will be the same.
With that in mind, what do we know about the script for the ’80s film that never got made? Well, it was reportedly called “RoboCop: The Corporate Wars,” and it jumps about 30 years into the future after a wounded Alex Murphy is revived to find a strange new world. The “I’d buy that for a dollar” guy has been elected president, cities are basically citadels for the rich and powerful, and an evil businessman plans on using the reawakened RoboCop to help his nefarious schemes.
So what else happened in this version of the script? Well, speaking with Vice in 2009, Ed Neumeier elaborated on the plot, saying, “There was some fun stuff that we were toying with, like a sort of ghost-in-the-machine-type spirit that happened to be female and RoboCop ends up falling in love with.” As for the bad guys, Neumeier confirmed to HN Entertainment, “We had some ideas about, shall we say, about the future of augmented humans and one of our villains is that and our other villain lives in the corporate world somewhat as before, but you know, the ‘RoboCop’ thing for me was always exploring man’s relationship with technology, coping with technology.”
A nuclear bomb would also reportedly play into the story somehow, and it’ll be interesting to see if any of these ideas carry over from the original sequel script to this new version of “RoboCop Returns.” However, we do know that the franchise is about to pull a David Gordon Green “Halloween” and ignore all the other sequels. As Neumeier told Zeitgeist! in January 2018, “There’s been a bunch of other ‘RoboCop’ movies, and there was recently a remake, and I would say this would be kind of going back to the old ‘RoboCop’ we all love and starting there and going forward. So it’s a continuation really of the first movie.”
Who is directing RoboCop 2?
In July 2018, it was announced that Neill Blomkamp would direct “RoboCop Returns.” If you’re a sci-fi fan, you definitely know Blomkamp’s name. The South African-Canadian filmmaker burst onto the scene with “District 9,” an apartheid fable about aliens landing on Earth and being forced into internment camps. Filmed in a documentary style, the 2009 flick earned rave reviews and outgrossed movies like “Paranormal Activity,” “Watchmen,” and “Drag Me to Hell.”
After that, Blomkamp returned to the sci-fi genre with “Elysium” and “Chappie,” and he was poised to bring Alex Murphy back to the big screen in style, telling Entertainment Weekly, “If I can be honest to what Paul Verhoeven did and almost try to emulate that in a way, then I feel like [‘RoboCop Returns’] does have value, and we’re not doing it for the sake of just doing it.” But Blomkamp would never visit futuristic Detroit. The director has several notable unmade movies in his history — e.g. an “Alien” sequel and a disaster flick starring Chris Evans — and you can also add “RoboCop Returns” to that list.
In August 2019, Blomkamp tweeted, “Off ‘RoboCop.’ I am shooting new horror/thriller, and MGM can’t wait/need to shoot ‘RoboCop’ now. Excited to watch it in theaters with other fans.” We’re assuming this “horror/thriller” was “Demonic,” a possession flick that’s widely hailed as one of the worst movies of 2021. So yeah, probably not the best decision, Blomkamp. But after his departure, MGM hired the up-and-coming Abe Forsythe to direct. To date, Forsythe specializes in horror comedy, as he directed Lupita Nyong’o in the zombie flick “Little Monsters” and works as the showrunner on “Wolf Like Me,” the werewolf dramedy starring Josh Gad and Isla Fisher.
When discussing the moviemaking process in August 2020, Ed Neumeier expressed great faith in Forsythe, telling SyFy that when he talked with the director about his ideas, they “felt relevant and really crackled.” We’re excited to see what Forsythe has in store when RoboCop does indeed return.